An artificial pancreas under development has tremendously improved the life of five patients of diabetes in UK.
The successful home trials conducted jointly by Diabetes UK with scientists from Cambridge university has given hope that an artificial pancreas will be able to successfully mimic the body's blood sugar control mechanism.
The five people have spent four weeks using the artificial pancreas at night, which is a time when blood glucose levels can fall too low.
They've now passed on the equipment to the next group taking part.
By the end of this year, 24 people will be using this artificial pancreas as part of larger home trials.
They will use the artificial pancreas at night for four weeks, while using standard therapy for another four weeks.
The results of the trial are expected to be ready by the end of the year.
Blood sugar is controlled by a delicate balance between two hormones: insulin and glucagon, both of which are produced in the pancreas.
Insulin is produced by beta cells and glucagon by alpha cells.
In type 1 diabetes, the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas are destroyed by the immune system, requiring insulin treatment to regulate blood sugar levels.
And that is exactly what this new artificial pancreas does.
It is capable of dual control exactly the way a human body does.
Dr Roman Hovorka at the University of Cambridge is working on a five-and-a-half-year project to generate a first-generation artificial pancreas prototype which will reduce the risk of overnight hypos in adults with Type 1 diabetes.
Dr Hovorka's project is costing a total of £700,526.
Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition caused when the pancreas stops producing the insulin needed to control blood sugar levels.
Patients must carry out frequent finger-prick tests and inject insulin to keep their blood sugar within safe limits.
Left untreated, Type 1 diabetes is fatal; even suboptimal control increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, nerve damage and blindness.
Patients under the age of five are a particularly vulnerable group. Too young to recognise the shaking and dizziness that warn of a drop in their blood sugar, they are at high risk of developing overnight hypoglycaemia.
Dr Hovorka said "Using an off-the-shelf insulin pump and continuous glucose sensor, we've developed a computer algorithm to control their function in a closed-loop fashion, delivering the correct amount of insulin according to blood sugar levels," he said. "By maintaining tight control of blood sugar, this has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of patients with Type 1 diabetes and significantly improve their quality of life."
The artificial pancreas is a system that measures blood glucose levels on a minute-to-minute basis using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), and transmits this information to an insulin pump that calculates and releases the required amount of insulin into the body.
This system, which is worn like an insulin pump, has been termed the 'artificial pancreas' because it monitors and adjusts insulin levels just as the pancreas does in people without diabetes.
The device has the potential to transform lives, particularly for people who find it difficult to maintain good blood glucose control.By levelling out the peaks and troughs in blood glucose levels, the artificial pancreas will help to avoidraised glucose levels, which over time contribute to the development of complications, low glucose levels, or 'hypos', which can be distressing and in extreme cases can lead to a coma or death.